Giant pandas no longer endangered but still vulnerable, China says

Giant pandas are no longer classified as endangered but they remain vulnerable, Chinese officials say.

The classification was downgraded after the number of pandas in the wild reached more than 1,800, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

Cui Shuhong, head of the ministry’s nature and ecology conservation department, said China has established a relatively complete system of protected natural areas and living environments for wildlife.

This has meant the conditions for giant pandas, Tibetan antelopes and milu deer to thrive have improved.

The populations of some rare and endangered species have gradually recovered, Mr Shuhong said, adding that the populations of the Siberian tiger, the Amur leopard, the Asian elephant and the crested ibis have increased significantly.

The new classification comes five years after the International Union for Conservation and Nature removed the animal from its endangered species list.

It re-labelled the giant panda as “vulnerable” but China disputed the decision at the time.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wan Wenbin said this is “great news”.

“We are glad to see one great story after another in China’s ecology conservation efforts,” he said.

“We’ve seen Siberian tigers paying visits to villages, wild Asian elephants on a northward journey and a whale spotted in Shenzhen’s Dapeng Bay.”

Pandas live mainly in temperate forests high in the mountains of southwest China and their diet is mostly bamboo.

They must eat around 26 to 84lbs (11-38kg) of it every day, according to the World Wildlife Foundation.

Giant pandas are notoriously bad at breeding, with females only able to conceive for about two or three days around ovulation.

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